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HR in the child care industry

Because you work with young children, your HR needs are unique and challenging.

Whether you run a playschool, a nursery or a kindergarten, some regular issues you may face include:

  • Recruitment: Not only is it vital to find people with the right background and qualifications, but also the right attitude to work with children.
  • Health & safety: With kids crawling, running and jumping around, you’ve got to make sure that everything is secure and child-proof.
  • Maternity leave: 98% of childcare workers are female, increasing the chance that one or more of your staff will take maternity leave at some point.

We know you’d rather spend more time looking after your kids and less time worrying if you’ll pass an Ofsted inspection.

That’s why we already help 1,112 businesses in the childcare sector to manage their HR, employment law and health & safety needs.

Watch this short video to find out how we help the Little Acorns group keep up to date with ever-changing regulations.

Questions we’ve answered

Our advice line is open 24/7, 365—so you can get answers to your HR, employment law and health & safety questions at any time.

Here are some of the issues we’ve helped resolve:

  • I’ve checked a successful candidate’s criminal record and found some negative information. What should I do?

    It depends on what you found. If the candidate is still suitable, then you could meet with them to discuss the information and get their side of the story.

    If what you discovered makes the candidate unsuitable, you can withdraw the offer—if you made it on condition that they had a clean criminal record.

    If your offer was unconditional, you’ll need to give notice before terminating the contract.

  • A member of staff has reported another employee for inappropriate behaviour. Should I suspend her while I investigate?

    You can suspend the employee if the allegations are serious.

    But you should only do so if she could interfere with your investigation, for example by tampering with evidence or speaking to witnesses.

    Instead of suspending her, you could move her to a different area of the business, or stop her from going to the area where the offence was allegedly committed.

    Suspension should always be the last resort.

    If the employee ends up taking you to an employment tribunal, we offer both representation and insurance.

  • I’ve overheard staff making jokes about the sexual preferences of their colleagues. When I spoke to one of them, he said it was just ‘banter’. Should I do anything to stop this?

    Yes—when your staff start using the word ‘banter’ to justify inappropriate comments, this should set alarm bells ringing.

    The employees on the receiving end may feel humiliated, intimidated or offended. If you don’t defend them by shutting down the ‘banter’ right away, they could make claims of harassment and discrimination.

    If this keeps happening, you may need to put down rules in writing. We can help you draft clear workplace policies that explain the consequences of unacceptable behaviour.

  • A new member of staff keeps wearing inappropriate clothing. How should we deal with this?

    If you have a dress code policy that sets out what employees can and can’t wear, you should make sure the new employee is aware of it.

    You can take formal action against the employee if they carry on ignoring the rules—first in the form of a verbal warning, then a written one. The more warnings you give, the likelier it will be that a tribunal will class a dismissal as fair (if it comes to that).

    If you don’t have a dress code policy, we’ll write one for you together with all your workplace policies and contracts.

A real-life case from the childcare sector

Nursery dress code leads to discrimination claim

A nursery manager was going through their dress code with a successful applicant.

The first requirement wasn’t controversial—the applicant would have to wear non-slip footwear while carrying out her role.

But the second proved to be a sticking point. The school asked the applicant to wear a shorter jilbab—a full-length garment that some Muslim women wear to cover their body down to their ankles.

The reason for this was practical—the garment was a tripping hazard for children and other members of staff.

The applicant took offence at this, and never started the job. Instead, she brought a claim of indirect discrimination against the nursery.

The employment tribunal dismissed the case. The nursery’s need for staff to wear clothes of appropriate length didn’t just affect Muslims, but staff of all religions—and even those with no religion.

And if it did put some Muslim women at a disadvantage, health & safety came first.

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